Reaching Out to New Audiences
A common challenge that organizations face in their public outreach is how to continue growing their supporter base by offering new types of experiences while maintaining their current events to please existing members.
Nature Regina has been stepping outside their comfort zone to do just this.
After becoming involved in our program and learning about engagement organizing, they have been focusing on building up their general supporter base, as well as their membership, which has required some creativity in the types of activities they host. Nature Regina was noticing that the attendees at their monthly talks rarely changed – they were seeing the same group of people and gathering new supporters was an area of opportunity.
Recognizing that different types of events will attract different people, they set out to engage new audiences by hosting a different type of experience with a documentary screening and panel discussion. We talked to Nature Regina about their outstanding success in doing this recently, and how they will be applying lessons learned to all events in the future.
In December, Nature Regina hosted a wildly successful documentary viewing event in which almost 150 people attended. Contributing to the event’s success was their partnership with Nature Saskatchewan and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, which allowed them to reach new audiences. In addition to the high turn out, they collected more than 70 signatures for Nature Canada’s Protect the Prairie Grasslands petition to call for protection of the lands that were seen in the documentary.
They invited experts from Nature Saskatchewan, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Public Pastures Public Interest and a traditional knowledge keeper from the Peepeekisis First Nation to participate in a panel discussion after the screening.
Elaine Ehman, Nature Regina’s President of the board, told us that the event really “took on a life of its own” as more people became involved.
Organizing the event as a team of organizations was key to both the success of the event and to fostering a supportive learning relationship between Nature Regina and their partners. By partnering with a wide variety of organizations like the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and other nature groups, the event was advertised to a much larger audience of people, which was clearly beneficial as showcased by the number of attendees.
They recently organized a night tour of the local Kalium Observatory and have been seeing such great turnout that they now have a waiting list of people who want to attend the next outing, of both members and new supporters.
Continuing the trend of trying new types of events, their next endeavor is a poetry reading by an author that released a book about species extinction, again to be held at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum for Earth month. Elaine explains that this is another opportunity in which nature groups can help each other reach more people, build their partnerships and encourage their community members to protect nature.
The success they have had in event turnout of new supporters has made them realize how important it is to sign in people who attend and follow-up with opportunities for them to get involved. It is through these new ideas that they found their groove in applying the engagement organizing principles they learned through Nature Canada’s program.
Now, the new mindset they have is how can we improve turnout at every monthly meeting and who can we partner with to make this happen? They have been involving students, especially those studying biology, to come and speak at their meetings with the hope that these students will encourage their networks to become involved with Nature Regina.
They are seeing increased interest in their organization and are making sure to ask people to support their work, whether it be through volunteering, donating or becoming a member. By diversifying the ways in which they engage with their community, they have successfully involved more people in the important work they do to protect nature.